Testing and the COVID-19 strategy: the need to change the game

We wanted to respond this morning to the policy research paper: Changing the Game on Testing published by the Institute for Global Change. The key point of the paper is that a radical rethink of the government testing strategy is needed in order for the UK to actually become “world class.”

Some of the key points that are directly aligned to the Testing for All mission are:

Incorporate any and all available lab capacity that is capable of being integrated. This is the purpose of the Testing for All technology platform, and at this time we have integrated three large private lab networks capable of >20,000 antibody tests per day (including using their European group company capacity)

Test all quarantined individuals, and release those who are negative. We are working with our lab partners to enable same day antigen testing using both saliva and swab sampling.

Provide COVID-19 innovation bonds. We would welcome some additional funding to build our special purpose logistics and supply chain platform that integrates small labs and suppliers into a special purpose COVID-19 network. This endorsement would help to bring credibility to what we are doing. There is a huge installed base of Abbott, Roche and Siemens CMIA machines that are not being used in COVID-19 testing, and specific funding is needed to repurpose this equipment from other areas of “the diagnostic economy.

Distribute rapid on the spot antigen tests to businesses to inform and trigger Track and Trace. We believe that employers are critical to the ongoing testing efforts.

Roll out combination testing. Ie. using tests which are cheap and easy to distribute as screening tools and using high sensitivity/specificity lab based tests for confirmatory testing. We have investigated using lateral flow antibody tests, with confirmatory tests using CMIA based antibody testing.

Develop a communications campaign for the portfolio of testing. We would welcome a message that clarifies it is an employer’s obligation to embed testing in their “back to work” and employee safeguarding policies

Above all else we wish that the UK government would embrace private enterprise, such as Testing for All, and create the integration points from a regulatory, process and technical point of view to ultimately achieve the aim of Testing for All: to make testing accessible and affordable to UK workers. We need a fast process in order to assess and integrate organisations such as ours into the fabric of a new public/private “world class” testing program.